Saturday, September 26, 2009

Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tina Benkiser quits to go work for Rick...

I spoke with a couple of the people who were there at the SREC meeting when Tina made her announcement... here is what I heard.

First was that nobody saw her announcement coming. I heard rumors of something like this weeks ago, but then those rumors seemed not to be true with each passing day. I had heard back then she would quit and let someone else step up... and that she was going to "campaign for" one of the candidates... I didn't know which one, Rick or Kay. Turns out it was Rick. From the reports of people in the room, when she uttered the words about resigning and her intentions, the air in the room completely turned into a vacuum for a few moments, going silent, then the room began buzzing.

Second I heard that nobody on Kay's team saw this coming, and that they were completely blindsided at first not knowing how to react. The reaction later on turned to dismissive attitude, and even an attitude of downplaying Tina Benkiser and her considerable influence with leaders around the state. They point to the fact that Republicans only have 76 seats in the Texas House now, down from 88 in 2003. If they hadn't noticed, Republicans lost several dozen seats and the majority nationally, and in Texas Republicans still have a majority at the state level despite the Obama effect, an unprecedented amount of liberal money spent, and some surprising losses in 2006 and 2008. I think you have to look at the policies that have been enacted, and other than Voter I.D. being filibustered by the Democrats we in Texas have been a leader in the national conservative movement. One of Kay's staffers worked at the state party over that same time, so he should know better.

Third I heard that when Tina Benkiser made her announcement some people got up to leave the room and get on the phone. Some people found this to be rather rude, others just viewed it as keeping people in the loop. I would have needed to be there to judge for myself, but I could see what they meant by "rude."

Fourth I heard that Tina's resignation not only gives Rick a new high level person to help gather grassroots support... it also allows the Texas Republican Party a chance to put some new energy in place. I have already heard the leading choices amongst the SREC are all close with Rick and his peeps. I am told they are grateful to Rick for giving Tina Benkiser a chance to leave and give someone else a chance without a messy intraparty challenge... I heard from more than one person that this was a "huge coup for Rick Perry" and "Rick Perry is looking like he is the only one who knows his way around Texas Republican Party politics."

Fifth I heard conflicting things and some frankly kind of stupid misinformation from Kay's side about Tina's new role and the status of the current team members including one of the team players on Rick's side who has been with Rick for more than a decade, but I doubt anyone takes those rumors seriously. I also have a feeling a lot of the details about Tina's role have not been determined yet.

On that issue... I am told that Terry Sullivan is "going nowhere" and Kay never intended to replace him, just bring in help with Keats Norfleet.

Sixth I heard that Tina is bringing some other high level support and money along with her to help out with Rick's campaign. More endorsements perhaps? Rick has been ticking off endorsements almost daily as it is...

Seventh I heard that a big majority of the SREC supports Rick and is working behind the scenes for him in bigger ways than I had realized.

I think the state chairman of the Republican Party of Texas quitting her post to go work for Rick shows just what an uphill challenge Kay has in this race. Mostly it shows the perception out there that Rick just knows what he is doing, Kay does not... it shows that there is a real bandwagon effect happening right now for Rick...

In March though I think the staff assignments may not make as much difference as message and effectiveness in delivering the message from the candidates themselves.

We will see won't we.


  1. Wow, you have a completely different view of the RPT than the grassroots. Benky has been completely inneffective in making the platform a reality. She's also been ineffective in raising funds for the RPT as according to ethics/FEC reports, she's left the party bankrupt.

  2. I don't see what this Benkiser hire does for Perry other than getting n wholly ineffective and failed Chairman out of that position so Perry can put someone better in place. Benkiser was an abortion of a chairman and a national embarrassment. Anyone, and I mean anyone, would be better.

    Here's hoping Roger Williams abandons his hapless Senate campaign and makes a run for Chairman. I hear he is interested and that's a great thing. He gets the grassroots and the major donors. He would be a great chairman.

    Please God, don't let them elevate another SREC member. We need a leader, not another glorified precinct chair leading the state party.

  3. Texas Election Code mandates that the Chair and Vice Chair be of different gender.

  4. much avoided fact: RPT was doing just fine under Tina--until Hans Klingler arrived on the scene.

    yes, his failure coincided with the 06 & 08 losses that were unavoidable, but Mr. Klingler

    1. let Craddick's PAC run the fundraising show in 2008...that means Republicans facing Craddick D's were screwed from the onset.

    2. let the Libertarians force several seats into D Brian Walker's case, prevented R's from a pickup

    3. Klingler ran the day-to-day operations. His greatest endeavors included a cliche bumper sticker and 'RPTV,' a poorly produced waste of time.

    4. Klingler, political director, did not have a plan for target house races--not a single post-it note was dedicated to a party strategy for targeting key races (a few legitimate challengers and a bunch of urban incumbents)

    5. Hans was in charge of the party's communication efforts. did we hear a squeak out them? a single press release?

  5. "much avoided fact: RPT was doing just fine under Tina"


  6. I think everyone is missing the bigtime obvious thing that this does for Rick Perry. Perry's team won't say it, but they are earning points with people behind the scenes who know what's really going on. They gave Tina an out, knowing she was on the ropes. It saved a bitter battle for the chairmanship and an embarrassing loss of face for Tina.


Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.